All That Jazz XI Review


Aaron Audience   

Rarely does one get a chance to mingle with beautiful people, listen to not one but  three  musicians from Kenya, South Africa and Mali come often, yet this is what actually happened to me  two weeks ago when a pair of tickets landed on my desk courtesy of the good people at Waabeh. So on a  chilly Thursday evening two weeks ago, my date and I made our way to the Luis Leakey Theater at the National Museum for the 11th edition of the All Jazz Fest, hosted by Nairobi’s piano ubermeister Aaron Rimbui 

I must confess that my sound palette for West African sounds has been shaped by Ali Farka toure, Youssou N’ Dour and Baaba Maal so Google came to my rescue as I did not know anything about  Moussa Diallo [ blame my heart not my head]. This however turned out to be one of the better decisions that week as  not only did I discover some new music but also having been immersed in his two albums allowed me better understand his songs when he got up on stage later on.

Georgie Shumi

Willy Rama on Percussion

The show began with Kato Change, a 23 year guitarist who in a short span of just two years, has come up literally from nowhere to be one of the most in demand session guitarists in Nairobi . He was the opening act that started the first set and from the cheers that he received I could tell that he had a legion fans, albeit female ones, who seemed to know him from his other musical collaborations. In addition to his own band the Change Experience, Kato is also the guitarist for Afro pop bands Ma3, nu’ soul diva Atemi, Maia Von Lekow and the Aaron Rimbui quartet . The All That Jazz Fest stage has grown to define itself solely by the calibre and excellence of the musicians on its stage, little wonder that this pressure could have been one of the reasons that Kato struggled to get his footing on his first song but by his last three pieces, Kato and his quartet were  very comfortable concluding with his single Freedom, which brought the house down, lending credence to myth that pressure does indeed turn some carbon into diamond!

At this point  I must confess, that I have been a regular at Aaron’s shows from when he was playing with Four Winds which is at least a good 7 years  ago and what’s truly amazing is to see him in his element. His show was mix of new material as well interpretations of songs from his last two albums Alfajiri and Keys to Life. Aaron has become quite the showman and it’s a always a thrill to see him on stage. Shumi  a virtual stranger to the Kenyan music scene has been quite a mystery in that I have seen several people tweet about about how phenomenal her music is, but no one can not explain what the stunning and obviously very talented South African  singer is doing here in Nairobi, it’s rumored she’s working here on an album. She collaborated with Aaron’s quartet on 3 songs, Mombasa Blues being my favorite. Watching her set was the highlight of my evening, and if her album rumours are anything to go by, it will be a feast for my ears! The fifteen minute intermission that followed, was enough for me to catch up with friends whose paths I hadn’t crossed in a while, quench our parched throats but also allowed Moussa Diallo to do his soundcheck. The thing that always impresses me when watching Western African musicians is they put on a show… as in.. they REALLY put on a show. Everything from the colorful traditional outfits, the instruments, the vibe on stage screams AFRICA! This was the case when Moussa and his quartet got onto stage. The 58 year old mixed race bass player with both Danish and Malian roots was rockstar in the every sense of the word. From the moment he walked onto  stage, we were enthralled by his ability to play the bass, dance, sing all at the same time. By the time he got to his fifth song the urge to dance had overcome everyone and we were all up and about thoroughly getting down and enjoying a superb performance, a rare occurrence with the strait laced audience that defines  All that Jazz Fest.  Moussa came with a band of 3 ie. Percussion, Drums and Kora. I was particularly loved the Kora player the most  as he was able to make it sound like a raging rock guitar in one song, a funky soul guitarist in another and in some songs I could actually feel the sand and wind from the Sahara as he conjured up sonic landscapes from the deepest parts of Mali and Senegal. Aaron Rimbui never disappoints and this for me was the best All That Jazz Fest I have attended, it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling like that of parent having been seen this festival  grow since it’s inception 2 years ago. Kudos to Capital FM, Tusker Malt Lager, Safaricom, Waabeh, Danish Embassy for the great evening that  was  #AllthatJazzFestXI

Until next time, get out more and listen to what you love!

Alaf Oo.

Moussa - Sound CheckKato SoundCheckMoussa Percussion Guy

Moussa Diallo  at Sound Check with his Band

Moussa Diallo at Sound Check with his Band

Photos: Barbara Muriungi [@them2k] and Tim Rimbui [ @rimbui]

Listen and Buy to All That Jazz Artists Here 

Aaron Rimbui

Kato Change 


1 Comment

  1. We saw photos of the events and a clip of Mousa telling the story about Lion or was it… real funny guy

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Made with Love from Africa.